Today in NC State History: Rock no longer rolls in Reynolds

August 29, 2014
By Chris Saunders

historyIconThere’s an endless list of rock ‘n’ roll and country music legends who roared through Reynolds Coliseum over the years and left the crowds wowed by their performances.

The Rolling Stones in ’65. Elton John in ’80. Van Halen in ’82. And who can forget Conway Twitty closing his show with “Three Times a Lady” and “It’s Only Make Believe” in 1984?

That succession of music memories ended temporarily on this day in 1984, however, when university officials announced Reynolds Coliseum would no longer host rock concerts.

“Reynolds Coliseum will not be booking any future rock concerts,” read the first line in the Technician‘s lead story that day.

resolverThat statement, as reported in the same article, was the only statement released by Richard Farrell, business manager of Reynolds Coliseum at the time. It seemed to be a response to a request from Jim Edwards, chairman of the Union Activities Board‘s entertainment committee. He had written a letter to Athletics Director Willis Casey earlier that August asking for approval to invite such acts as ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen and Prince to play inside Reynolds.

Instead of receiving a response from Casey, Edwards got the one-sentence statement from Farrell, according to the Technician.

“I personally feel the administration has made this decision because most of the crowd (at rock concerts) are non students, and because they don’t like the type of crowd that rock ‘n’ roll concerts draw,” Edwards told the paper. “For Friends of the College events, I feel that student attendance is lower than at rock ‘n’ roll concerts such as Van Halen. …To me they’re segregating the types of music.”

The policy by NC State administrators turned out to be only a temporary injunction on fun at the coliseum, as acts like the Charlie Daniels Band, Alabama and Aerosmith went on to rock out Reynolds in the late 1980s.

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